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Does Public Charge Apply to You? Federal Rule Change Takes Effect February 24

On Monday, February 24, the Federal Administration's long-awaited revision to the Public Charge rule will take effect in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation. For many in L.A. County’s immigrant communities currently receiving public assistance, the rule change will not affect their benefits.

“Public Charge” is a term that describes a non-U.S. citizen who is likely to become dependent on public assistance and depends on public benefits to meet their basic needs, such as cash assistance programs or long-term care. The term is used in immigration law as a ground for inadmissibility and deportation.

The rule change does not apply to the following situations:

  • U.S. CITIZENS: You and your family members are U.S. citizens;
  • GREEN CARD HOLDERS: If you and your family members are renewing a green card or applying to become a U.S. citizen. (Please consult with an immigration attorney if you plan to leave the country for more than 180 days, as public rule charge may apply);
  • SPECIAL VISA APPLICANT/HOLDERS: Those with the status of refugee, asylee, Violence Against Women Act Petitioner, Temporary Protected Status Applicant/Holder, U&T Visa Applicant/Holder, Special Immigrant Juvenile, or other non-citizen groups, such as DACA Renewal Applicants.

Benefit experts and immigration lawyers have created Keep Your Benefits, a public website* that screens and determines whether the Public Charge rule will impact an individual who is seeking U.S. citizenship. The answers provided on the site are private and safe.  

The Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) is encouraging those who are uncertain about how the Public Charge rule will affect their status, in terms of becoming a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, to consult with reliable and trained immigration attorneys to discuss their specific situations.

“DPSS has a moral and civic responsibility to every one of our residents, regardless of immigration status, to deliver essential public services and benefits that promote their health and improve their quality of life,” said Director Antonia Jiménez.

Jiménez shared that DPSS has developed an informative “Does Public Charge Apply to Me?”  flyer available in English, Spanish, Armenian, Chinese, Cambodian, Korean, Native American, Filipino, Vietnamese, which includes contact information for the County’s Office of Immigration Affairs (OIA) for referrals to free or low-cost legal services.

Updates on the Public Charge rule are available on the Office of Immigrant Affairs website by visiting or by calling 1.800.593.8222.